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How to Dress Like a Pro for Art Basel (or any important fair)

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After a long hiatus due to the global pandemic, the contemporary art world is embracing the concept of IRL wholeheartedly. For example, Art Basel begins this week and people are already in Switzerland getting the party started. So, what should one wear to a global art fair like Art Basel, when the creative class will be out in full force? Based on what we saw at the VIP Preview Day at Frieze New York, we’ve got answers. Here are our road-tested tips on what to wear and how to dress like a pro for Art Basel this week – or for any other important contemporary art fair, museum art exhibit or gallery show on your calendar, including dresses, bags and more.

what should you wear to art basel (or any contemporary fair, museum exhibit or gallery show?)

The contemporary art world has shaken off its COVID-19 quarantine slumber and come roaring back to life.

Last month, the tenth edition of Frieze New York wrapped up at The Shed in Hudson Yards. The O.G. contemporary art fair, Art Basel, opens this week. The Venice Biennale continues until the beginning of November. Documenta 15 opens this weekend in Kassel. The new FORMAT festival debuts at Crystal Bridges in September. Followed by the inaugural edition of Paris+ par Art Basel in October. Just to name a few.

Meaning that there will be lots of opportunities to dress up. And potentially lots of angst about what to wear and how to dress for Art Basel and any one of the other big contemporary art fairs, museum exhibits and gallery shows you may have on your calendar this year.

So, how to dress to impress (or at least blend in) at an art fair like Art Basel?

What to wear to Art Basel or any contemporary art fair, museum exhibit or gallery show.
What to wear to Art Basel or any contemporary art fair, museum exhibit or gallery show.

Based on what we saw recently at Frieze New York, here are some ideas and fashion inspo straight from the art world. Unsurprisingly, the crowd embraced vibrant colors both in monochrome and in prints and patterns. Pop colored bags definitely had an arm candy vibe with fruity hues that screamed spring. Sure, the contemporary art scene can be intimidating – but as our photos show, it’s actually all about allowing yourself to have fun..

Whether you’re visiting an upcoming contemporary art museum exhibit, gallery show or another see-and-be-seen event, here are some chic choices to help you decide what to wear and how to dress to be your best self.

How to dress, what to wear for Art Basel or any contemporary art fair, museum exhibit or gallery show, including dresses, bags and more.
How to dress, what to wear for Art Basel or any contemporary art fair, museum exhibit or gallery show, including dresses, bags and more.

How to dress for Art Basel and other contemporary fairs, museum exhibits and gallery shows

1. Head-to-Toe Prints.

While New Yorkers are famous for wearing all black, there was plenty of color and pattern play at Frieze New York. Think animal prints, gingham, tie-dye, ditsy florals and tropical palms. No blank canvases here!

What to wear and how to dress for Art Basel or other contemporary fair, museum exhibit or gallery show. VIP Preview Day at Frieze New York 2022. Photo Credit: Dandelion Chandelier.

This Banke Kuku pleated silk-blend shirt dress was seen on the Lagos-based luxury label for spring-summer 2023.

what to wear to art basel or any big art fair

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This vibrant ocean blue eyelet linen-silk gown from Zimmerman would be perfect for a seaside art fair like Art Basel Miami Beach.

 

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We’re inspired by power-clashing our pandemic tie-dye frocks and tops with always-on-trend florals. This embroidered tie-dye corset mini dress from Milan-based Salvo Rizza has a cool Kate Moss vibe.

what to wear to art basel or any big art fair, how to dress art gallery show

 

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2. Boldly Monochromatic.

Female political figures are often associated with bold-colored power dressing. The looks are instantly iconic and convey confidence. No surprise that they figured prominently at one of the most important art fairs of the year.

What to wear and how to dress for Art Basel or other contemporary fair, museum exhibit or gallery show. VIP Preview Day at Frieze New York 2022. Photo Credit: Dandelion Chandelier.

One of our favorite looks was a neon yellow plissé crinkle dress. Glossy, textured and in a fun color, it still manages to look elevated with its flattering drape. Similarly, this Acler black belted  plissé mini dress has an appealing 70s vibe that we’d dress down with tennis shoes for a museum trip or silver sandals for a night out.

what to wear to art basel or any big art fair

 

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The blazer has been our secret weapon for getting dressed up and looking polished in no time. And to be totally on-trend, you need an oversized one. Like this one, in blush pink from Instagram favorite The Frankie Shop. It’s much less serious and more insouciant than a fitted one in a neutral color.

 

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A bold pink dress just lights up the face with a rosy glow. Roksanda’s sculptural dress features a V-neck, pointed short sleeves and a flirty tiered skirt.

 

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3. Arm Candy

Handbags in bright, juicy colors seemed to replace luxury logos among the contemporary art fair crowd – meaning maybe leave logomania behind when you decide what to wear for Art Basel. Perhaps it’s a twist on quiet luxury that’s not so quiet?

Either way, we love this look as the weather warms. And as shown by these pics from the Frieze, it’s an easy way to make a darker outfit pop.

What to wear and how to dress for Art Basel or other contemporary fair, museum exhibit or gallery show. VIP Preview Day at Frieze New York 2022. Photo Credit: Dandelion Chandelier.

As we all know by now, Telfar bags sell out fast. The iconic Unisex Shopping Bag in red is the perfect statement bag. You know what to do!

 

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This Balenciaga Le Cagole shoulder bag is both modern and playful with its distinctive silhouette and gorgeous color.

how to dress art gallery show

 

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When we think of chic bags in saturated colors, Mansur Gavriel immediately comes to mind. This mini cloud clutch in emerald green is an “homage to the cathartic power of texture.” It’s handcrafted in Italy from soft shearling.

what to wear to art basel

 

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what to wear to Art Basel or any contemporary fair, museum exhibit or gallery show

There you have it, straight from the eyewitnesses. What to wear and how to dress for Art Basel, or any other contemporary fair, museum exhibit or gallery show, including dresses, bags and more. Because the people-watching is just as satisfying as looking at the art, and you’ve got to do your part, dear reader.

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